ment he increasingly values.nThe Forest Service advocates and oversees the building ofnroads throughout the national forests. While building roadsnmay seem to be a productive and harmless activity, thenenvironmental consequences are often harsh. As the timbernat lower elevations and in easily accessible valleys is harvested,nthe Forest Service builds its roads farther into thenbackcountry and on higher and steeper slopes. As a generalnrule, the steeper the slope, the greater the danger ofnlandslides, slumps, sloughs, and earth flows. The problemsnare especially acute in the high, steep, and fragile backcountrynof the Rockies and Alaska. Roads built there (to reachnwhat is usually poor quality timber) cause soil erosion andnsiltation of rivers and streams, thus harming irrigationnsystems and reducing the quality of wildlife habitat.nIn the northern Rockies, some of America’s finest troutnand salmon rivers have been severely damaged by more thannten feet of mud caused by Forest Service road building andnlogging. And although some of Idaho’s waters are finallynrecovering from the road building and logging activities ofnthe 1950’s, the Forest Service is planning new developmentsnon fragile soils that are destined to repeat the injury.nThe total mileage of roads built by the Forest Service isnmore than eight times the total mileage of the U.S.nInterstate System. Almost 342,000 miles of roads have beennconstructed in the national forests, and there are plans tonnearly double this.nAccording to the Forest Service, over the next fifty years itnplans construction of 262,000 miles of new roads and thenreconstruction of 319,000 miles of existing roads, thenequivalent of going to the moon and back and then circlingnthe earth four times.nThis massive road building program is designed tonaccommodate logging activities. Yet much of this logging isnuneconomical and is dependent upon substantial subsidiesnfrom the federal government. To log these forests, the USFSnclassifies land as “commercial forest” if it produces 20 ornmore cubic feet of wood fiber per year. In contrast, thenstandard for private firms is three to five times that amount.nAs a consequence of the incentives this low standardnprovides, the Forest Service consistently underinvests in itsnmost productive sites and overinvests in money-losing,nenvironmentally fragile areas. This is the predictable consequencenof management being hostage to politics.nThe proposed sale of timber in Tolan Creek, Montana,ntypifies the economics of timber sales in the BitterrootnNational Forest. After the Forest Service spent $304,000 tonbuild new roads in the area, the agency estimates it will losen$257,000 on the timber sale. Although the agency maintainsnthat future sales in the area will pay for the roads, annanalysis by Forest Service economist Fred Stewart indicatesnthat even after receipts from future sales are considered thenagency will lose more than $24,000.nThe Wilderness Society maintains that things are evennworse in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska. They claimnthat in Tongass, taxpayers are subsidizing logging and roadnbuilding to the tune of more than $50 million per year. Thisnimplies that we are spending more than $30,000 to createneach timber job. In terms of its own budget, the ForestnService returns seven cents to the U.S. Treasury for everyn24/CHRONICLESnnndollar it spends on , the Tongass. Nationally, despite thenincreasing value of its timber, the Forest Service returnsnabout 72 cents for each dollar spent on timber management.nIn the Gallatin National Forest, which has its headquartersnnear FREE’s Bozeman, Montana, office, backcountrynrecreation provides more than 16 jobs for every job producednby the timber industry. The timber jobs, though theynare important to those they employ and to the culture of thenarea, make up a small part of community wages, representingnonly 2 percent of local employment. Yet the ForestnService has plans for a massive road building project. Littlenattention has been given to the impact upon 1,171 workersnin the recreation industry whose jobs are partially dependentnupon a relatively pristine environment.nThe slight attention given to the recreation industry isnalso a predictable consequence of the institutional arrangementsnand incentives faced by the Forest Service. ForestnService managers are rewarded for selling timber, evennwhen the timber they sell loses money. Their discretionarynbudget is largely dependent upon timber volume, not netnvalue. Congress, which liberally funds Forest Service roadsnand timber sales, allows forest managers to keep a share ofntimber receipts for their own budgets, and the amount theynkeep is a function of timber volume. Forest managers whonwant a larger budget can essentially appropriate morenmoney to their unit by selling timber — their agency keeps anshare of the receipts. Since Congress pays the cost ofnarranging sales and building roads, but does not require thenForest Service to reimburse the Treasury for those costs,nfrom the perspective of the district ranger, sales appear tongenerate profits, not losses, regardless of the true economicsnof the sales.nOn the other hand, most recreational activities producenno budgetary reward for managers because Congress permitsnfee collection only for developed campgrounds. Also,nCongress is less generous in funding recreational activitiesnthan in funding timber-related ones. The result is that evennif managers are more interested in recreation than in timber,nthe only way to fund many of their recreation programs is bynselling timber.nIf the road building and logging activities described abovenserved a great national purpose, they would be morendefensible. Yet in the above examples, the economic costs ofnsecuring the timber far exceeded any commercial value ofnthe timber. In many cases, roads funded at taxpayer expensenallowed access to timber that was too sparse, too marginal, orntoo slow-growing to justify the high price of the roads andnother development costs. In essence, taxpayers are subsidizingnenvironmentally destructive behavior that no privatentimber company or private landowner could afford.nRoad building has other bad side effects. Any increasednroad access to the backcountry effectively displaces manynwildlife species. Although the Forest Service claims to closenroads except when they are being used for management ornlogging, they do so by placing a green gate across the road,noften this is a symbolic action offering no real barrier tonjeeps, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and ATVs. Thus, quietnbackcountry areas originally intended for hikers, photographers,nhunters, and the wildlife that attracts them arenconverted into recreational areas for motor vehicles.nThe Forest Service’s logging activities have also displacedn